The best acoustic guitars. Concerned about buying an acoustic guitar online without trying it first? You needn’t worry. Online music instrument retailers like amazon Sweetwater, Thomann, Guitar Center, and Musician’s Friend offer hassle-free returns as standard, so you can purchase a guitar, play it in the comfort and privacy of your home, and, if it’s not right, send it back with ease. Check the specific returns policy for your chosen retailer before you purchase, but most offer between 30-45 days to return an item, as long as it’s in original condition.
Are you looking for the best acoustic guitar to suit your playing style and budget? Well, you have come to the right place. We’ve searched high and low to find the best guitars out there at every price point. From wallet-friendly options to high-end master builds, we have you covered.
Over the past decade or so, we’ve witnessed a massive leap in the quality of acoustic guitars at lower price points. Frankly, it’s pretty difficult to buy a lousy guitar these days – especially if you stick to the big brands. Suppose you’re new to the wide world of acoustic guitars. In that case, you’ll find more helpful information in our guide to the best acoustic guitars for beginners.
This guide explores flawless high-end investment pieces, modern classics, and affordable guitars that offer incredible value for money. No matter which guitar you choose, it’s sure to be your musical companion for years to come, so making the right decision is important. So read on to see our top picks, and let us guide you through the process.
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- Best acoustic guitars: buying advice
- Pickups and electronics
- Acoustic guitar wood types
- Best acoustic guitars: our top picks
- Best acoustic guitars: product guide
- 1. Fender CD-60S All-Mahogan
- 2. Art & Lutherie Roadhouse
- 3. Washburn Woodline 10 Series WLO12SE
- 4. Epiphone J-200 EC Studio
- 5. Taylor GS Mini Acoustic Guitar
- 6. Martin Dreadnought Junior
- 7. Yamaha SLG200S Silent Acoustic Guitar
- 8. Yamaha A5R ARE Acoustic Guitar
- 9. Martin D-15M Burst Acoustic Guitar
- 10. Martin D-28 Reimagined
- 11. Guild Traditional D-55 Acoustic Guitar
- 12. Gibson Montana Hummingbird
- 13. Taylor Builder’s Edition V-Class K14ce
Best acoustic guitars: buying advice
As we stated at the start of this guide, it is pretty difficult to buy a bad guitar in this day and age. So if the build quality of guitars is higher than it’s ever been, what should be your primary concerns when buying a new instrument? Here are some general considerations.
Guitars come in many different shapes and sizes, the most popular being Jumbo, Dreadnought, Grand Auditorium, Auditorium, and Parlor. Each of these styles brings its own characteristics to the table, so consider them carefully when choosing the best acoustic guitar for you.
Generally speaking, the bigger the guitar, the bigger the sound. The smaller the guitar, the tighter, more focused the sound. Perhaps that’s obvious, but you’ll want to consider the effect on tone too.
Jumbo and dreadnought guitars generally deliver a deeper sound due to the increased bottom end. These are a favorite of legendary solo singer-songwriters such as Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Sheryl Crow, as the increased volume and tone can make up for the lack of accompaniment.
This massive sound can get lost in a band situation – therefore, a smaller guitar may be more suitable. These guitars will cut through a mix better and ensure you’re heard over the rest of the band. With players such as John Mayer, Eric Clapton, and Myles Kennedy opting for a smaller-bodied acoustic guitar, it’s worth checking them out.
Bear in mind that the size not only affects the tone but also how comfortable the guitar is to play. So if you feel better playing a smaller guitar, then go for it. You have to be comfortable with your instrument.
Pickups and electronics
Once you have chosen the right shape for you, you’ll need to think about pickups. You may not know if you’ll ever want to plug into an acoustic amp or even PA speakers, and, of course, you could always have a pickup installed at a later date. Still, we recommend opting for a steel string with an onboard pickup/preamp if it’s within budget. As they say, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it!
Acoustic guitar wood types
Finally, let’s talk about wood. The tonewood a guitar is made of can drastically change the sound. Sitka spruce is the most commonly used in acoustic guitars and offers a balanced tone with clarity and dynamic range. Mahogany, on the other hand, is a hardwood with a darker, more direct sound. Cedar, by contrast, is softer sounding than spruce, with even more dynamic range and less natural compression.
Maple delivers a brighter sound with a strong midrange and punchy bottom end that’s ideal for strumming.
Remember, whichever acoustic guitar you choose, how the instrument is built affects its tonal characteristics just as much as its materials do, so don’t let the wood choice be a deal-breaker.
Best acoustic guitars: our top picks
It may be an obvious choice, but the Martin D28 is our top pick for the best acoustic guitar, overall. Very little has changed since this deep-bodied dreadnought was introduced in 1931. C.F. Martin set a new benchmark when they invented the dreadnought shape all those years ago. It’s easy to take this revolutionary guitar for granted now, but it really was a game-changer back in the day. Obviously, quality like this doesn’t come cheap, but if you’re looking for a timeless, rich-sounding guitar, look no further than the Martin D28.
For a more budget-friendly alternative, we’d highly recommend Epiphone J-200 EC Studio. This stunning guitar really does sound as good as it looks and offers the best-amplified sound for its price point. If you’re after the vintage Gibson look without breaking the bank, then it’s worth checking this one out.
Best acoustic guitars: product guide
1. Fender CD-60S All-Mahogan
One of the best acoustic guitars you can buy for under $200
Type: Dreadnought | Top: Solid Mahogany | Back & sides: Laminated Mahogany | Neck: Mahogany | Scale: 25.3″ | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Chrome Die-Cast | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Gloss
Superb value for money
Looks may put some off
The entry model of the Classic Design Series is a good reminder of just how much guitar you can get for your money at the more affordable end of the market. We’ve come far since the days of high-action, poor tuning stability and shoddy construction that used to mark out lower-priced models. Instead, we’re offered a solid-wood mahogany top, laminated mahogany back/sides, and an inviting rolled fretboard edge.
The CD-60S’ intonation is great out of the box, too, though not too low to make us wary of alternate tunings. The mid-character of mahogany is certainly here, bringing some meat to a brightness usually associated with spruce tops (remember what we said about no hard and fast rules with tonewoods?).
The result is something that’s genuinely inspiring to play and chimes in chord work, and one of the best acoustic guitars for newcomers or those looking for a second acoustic. After all, why should new players settle for just okay when they need to be comfortable and inspired? And there’s no reason why this dreadnought wouldn’t be a good addition for anyone else, too.
2. Art & Lutherie Roadhouse
One of the best acoustic guitars under $500
Type: Parlour | Top: Solid Spruce | Back & sides: Laminated Wild Cherry | Neck: Silver Leaf Maple | Scale: 24.84″ | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Open-gear 18:1 antique brass | Left-handed: No | Finish: Semi-Gloss Patina
A sweet blues and country box designed for the nomadic musician
Earthy looks and sound
If you have massive hands your thumbs might get in the way
Made by Art & Lutherie, a sub-brand of Godin Guitars (known mostly for its electric guitars) this parlor model cuts straight to the chase – it’s clean, it’s earthy, it’s got attack and its design takes you back in time to the rural deep south where all you might have needed were the clothes on your back and this instrument for company.
Playing this Roadhouse is an absolute joy. The middle and upper ranges of the guitar are very strong. When we try some alternative tuning, dropping the bottom E to a D opens up the bass no end. Blues and country come to the fore. There’s clarity too, combined with understated subtle warmth. A pocket-sized bag of country rock ‘n’ roll – compact and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
3. Washburn Woodline 10 Series WLO12SE
One of the best OM-style guitars for finger stylists on a budget
Type: Orchestra | Top: Solid mahogany | Back & sides: Mahogany | Neck: Mahogany | Scale: 25-1/2″ | Fingerboard: Ovangkol | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Chrome die-cast | Left-handed: No | Finish: Natural
Great for fingerstyle
Sparkling highs and tight, defined lows
The slim neck and low action
A three-piece neck isn’t the most attractive
Based on the vintage Martin OM body shape, the orchestra style WLO12SE features sub-dreadnought dimensions with sparkling highs, a tight bottom end, and a decent spec.
See more: Top 10 Best Classical Guitar under 500
A walnut-bound mahogany body paired with Washburn’s Scalloped-X bracing makes this an elegant guitar with a clarity that makes it great for the detail of fingerstyle playing.
A Fishman Presys II preamp gives an honest portrayal of the guitar’s acoustic qualities and includes bass and treble controls for tonal tweaking. Coupled with a slim C profile neck, low action, and a Graph Tech NuBone nut, this is a quality instrument that punches well above its weight.
4. Epiphone J-200 EC Studio
The best acoustic guitar on a budget for plugged-in performance
Type: Jumbo | Top: Solid spruce | Back & sides: Select maple | Neck: Hard maple | Scale: 25-1/2″ | Fingerboard: Pau ferro | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Grover Rotomatic 18:1 | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Black, Natural, Vintage Sunburst, Vintage Natural
Big jumbo tones
Classic J-200 styling
The large size isn’t for everyone
The Epiphone J200 EC Studio pays homage to its Gibson counterpart, with stunning vintage correct stylings. The mustache bridge, decorative tortoiseshell-style pickguard, and Pearloid crown inlays add a level of class to this instrument and we must say, it sounds as good as it looks, as well. The sound is balanced rather than boomy, giving strummed chords the fullness that made the J-200’s reputation. Expect articulate highs and a warm foundation in the bottom end.
If you want to hear what this guitar can really do, then plug it into an acoustic amp. The onboard Fishman Sonicore pickup delivers a sound among the best you’ll find below $/£500. Throw in a solid top as well and this is, without doubt, one of the best electro-acoustics around today.
5. Taylor GS Mini Acoustic Guitar
The best acoustic guitar for traveling
Type: Mini Grand Symphony | Top: Sitka Spruce | Back & sides: Laminated Sapele | Neck: Sapele | Scale: 23.5″ | Fingerboard: West African Ebony | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Die-Cast Chrome | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Varnish
A great concept
Build quality and design
Sound and playability
Cedar-topped and nylon-stringed versions would be nice
The Mexican-made Mini is equally functional as both a travel-sized acoustic and “modern-day parlor guitar”. Despite its small footprint, the GS Mini is no toy instrument: there’s a solid Sitka spruce top, a faultless build quality and the setup is immaculate.
Rather like a good parlor-size guitar, the GS Mini outputs a sound that belies its compactness. We’d lay a considerable sum to suggest it’d be a fine recording guitar, that tight low end giving space to a bass guitar (or bassier six-string) while the mids aren’t overly honky, as some parlors can be, and the silky, sparkly highs are pure Taylor fidelity. Far from a gimmick, this is a guitar with its own vibe and voice – and both are very appealing.
6. Martin Dreadnought Junior
When it comes to the best acoustic guitars, we love this dread
Type: Mini Dreadnought | Top: Sitka Spruce | Back & sides: Sapele | Neck: Select Hardwood | Scale: 24″ | Fingerboard: FSC® Certified Richlite | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Chrome Enclosed Gear | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Hand Rubbed
Punchy mid-range tones
Classic Martin sound
Smaller body is comfy
Lacks depth of a full-sized dread
Unlike Martin’s own X Series, or indeed, the minimalist cool of Taylor’s Big Baby, the Dread Junior might be downsized, but it’s very grown-up in build, with all-solid wood construction, proper mortise, and tenon neck joint, a bound top edge and simple soundhole rings.
It might not have the huge depth or width, harmonically speaking, of the full-size dreadnought, but there’s a punchy midrange and a slightly textured edge. It retains a Martin stamp: classic, old-school, and a fine picker’s choice, too. Put simply, it’s a cracking guitar, far from a Guitar Shaped Object.
For serious younger players, it’s a great entry into Martin’s heritage, but the more compact size means that many a more mature player will enjoy it, too.
7. Yamaha SLG200S Silent Acoustic Guitar
The ultimate practice acoustic guitar
Type: Mid-sized | Top: Mahogany | Back & sides: Rosewood & Maple | Neck: Mahogany | Scale: 25″ | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 22 | Tuners: RM1242N-4 | Left-handed: No | Finish: Gloss
Sounds superb through a PA
Very little beyond the divisive looks
An electro-acoustic guitar that barely has any acoustic volume, but put a set of headphones on and you’ll hear your playing with a studio-quality acoustic sound and posh effects. Oh, and you can plug in your mp3 player, too. What’s more, plug this so-called Silent Guitar into a PA or acoustic amp and you have a highly realistic electro-acoustic sound without any feedback.
The solid mahogany center-block and maple laminate frame might raise some eyebrows, but the neck is quite normal: a mainstream-feeling handful that typically is beautiful fretting and plays really well – like any other Yamaha acoustic, really. Live, expect to see jaws drop, because your audience won’t believe what they’re hearing from such an infeasible-looking instrument.
8. Yamaha A5R ARE Acoustic Guitar
The acoustic guitar that sounds utterly great plugged-in
Type: Dreadnought Cutaway | Top: Solid Sitka Spruce with A.R.E. treatment | Back & sides: Solid Rosewood | Neck: African Mahogany | Scale: 25.6″ | Fingerboard: Ebony, rolled edges | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Gotoh chrome open gear | Left-handed: No | Finish: Gloss
Unplugged experience is wonderful
SRT2 preamp is a dream
We’d like a non-cutaway option too
There is traditionally a gap between how we enjoy the sound of our guitars and the way they’re represented plugged in. Enter Yamaha, a leader in stage-ready acoustic technology for decades – and in the A5R ARE, it may have just offered us a very desirable solution.
The A5R’s rounded fretboard edges offer an enjoyable playing experience that mimics the feeling of guitars that have been played in to a degree and it has an ethereal quality in the high ranges, even though some treble resonance is traded with the lower action.
The A5’s resonance and bright balance is a fine showcase for the clever SRT2 preamp – we actually couldn’t dial in a ‘bad’ sound on it because the treble and bass controls mirror the natural subtlety of the pickup/mic dynamic design.
An electro experience that captures the sound of an unplugged acoustic? The SRT2 is one of the closest to get there yet. An update that marks the A Series out as an essential consideration for players who rely on a consistent and controllable stage sound.
9. Martin D-15M Burst Acoustic Guitar
A mid-priced, praise-worthy dreadnought
Type: Dreadnought | Top: Solid mahogany | Back & sides: Mahogany | Neck: Mahogany | Scale: 25.4″ | Fingerboard: Pau Ferro | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Nickel Open Gear | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Satin nitrocellulose
We like the minimal look
This D-15M dreadnought features a solid ‘genuine’ (South American) mahogany top over A-Frame X bracing; the same material is used for the back, sides, and neck. The neck profile is a ‘modified low oval, and it’s hard to imagine anyone having a problem with it. Bone nut and saddle: check. Vintage-style, open-gear tuners: check. Super-thin matt nitrocellulose finishes all over: check.
Tonally, there is a rich and projecting core sound that’s complemented by the unmistakable, Martin D-resonance. It’s vibrant and ebullient, yet not brash; warm and full without being thick or indistinct. It puts every single cent of its build budget into making the best sounding and playing an instrument, with very little concession to cosmetics, electronics, or anything else.
Solid woods, improved neck joint, bone nut and saddle, no frills whatsoever, save for the ‘burst top: it’s unreservedly recommended for anyone searching for the best acoustic guitars in the world.
See more: Top 10 Best Acoustic Guitars Under $200
10. Martin D-28 Reimagined
Martin’s 2017 ‘reimagining’ of one of the best acoustic guitars
Type: Dreadnought | Top: Sitka Spruce | Back & sides: East Indian Rosewood | Neck: Select Hardwood | Scale: 25.4” | Fingerboard: Ebony | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Nickel Open Gear | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Gloss
Clarity and balance
Enhanced look and feel
Many consider the D-28 to be the ultimate expression of the dreadnought form. ‘Reimagining’ such a guitar could be a poisoned chalice. Fortunately, you can still feel the gravity of that 186 years of history in its high-end guitars, which is why this beauty has graced our best acoustic guitar round-up.
The current D-28, reimagined in 2017, features forward-shifted bracing, a wider nut, and vintage-style aesthetic changes, but it’s the neck design that really makes this a comfortable and accessible dreadnought playing experience. The sound is balanced and maintains the very definition of an ‘all-rounder’. Notes ring out with sustain – that clear piano-like definition we love from Nazareth’s craftsmen.
Harmonics come easy and, with strumming, the high mids and treble have choral qualities that don’t overshadow the lower mids. Despite the tweaks, our test model still largely feels like the acoustic equivalent of Leo Fender’s Stratocaster design. Just as that outline is most synonymous with ‘electric guitar’, so to the D-28 continues to embody the dreadnought in look and sound.
11. Guild Traditional D-55 Acoustic Guitar
A highly desirable, slim-necked dreadnought
Type: Dreadnought | Top: ‘AAA’ Solid Sitka spruce | Back & sides: Solid Indian rosewood | Neck: Three-piece mahogany/ walnut/mahogany | Scale: 25.625″ | Fingerboard: Ebony | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Gotoh SE700 Open Gear | Left-handed: Yes | Finish: Gloss Nitrocellulose
Ace strumming and flat-picking tones
The neck won’t be for everyone
The D-55 is Guild’s dreadnought, very similar in shape to the all-conquering 14-fret Martin on which it’s based. However, if your used to a handful in the neck, the D-55 dreadnought makes for quite the contrast: a gloss neck, and slimmer nut accentuating the neck’s overall thinness; more a D than a C profile, to invite comfortable first-position chords, aided by an impressively low action.
That Adirondack bracing is doing its job, too, because string separation, definition and dynamic range are all notable and it feels loud, alive, and resonant when playing soft or hard.
If this acoustic guitar is anything to go by, the latest Traditional models are absolutely up there with the other big American names, offering superb quality craftsmanship and world-class tone.
The D-55 is a potentially serious workhorse that has every likelihood of outlasting and outperforming any one of us as long as we can keep on picking. A real sumptuous strummer.
12. Gibson Montana Hummingbird
The iconic Gibson songbird, loved by folk, rock and country players
Type: Square Shoulder | Top: Sitka spruce | Back & sides: Mahogany | Neck: Mahogany | Scale: 24.75″ | Fingerboard: Rosewood | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Grover Rotomatics | Left-handed: Limited run | Finish: Nitrocellulose
Practically sonically faultless
The colour might not be to everyone’s taste
From top to bottom, this Hummingbird creates a buzz. Whatever your preference in size, colour, tone and playing style, it’s difficult to avoid picking this Cherry Sunburst up. It’s such a simple guitar to play that it’s rare to ever feel like you’re incapable of striking the right chord – especially on a neck that’s just 12” in radius.
While the traditionally ornate decoration and blushing finish have been lovingly retained, this modern Montana incarnation offers a discrete LR Baggs Element VTC system for plug-in power. It is unlike many we have seen and produces one of the best sounds we’ve heard from an electric acoustic.
Throw in the pleasure of playing such a superb guitar and it’s tough to say anything bad about the Gibson Montana Hummingbird Cherry Sunburst.
13. Taylor Builder’s Edition V-Class K14ce
A top-class electro-acoustic with game-changing construction
Type: Grand Auditorium | Top: Torrefied Sitka spruce | Back & sides: Koa | Neck: Tropical mahogany | Scale: 25-1/2″ | Fingerboard: West African Ebony | Frets: 20 | Tuners: Gotoh | Left-handed: No | Finish: Silent Satin
High position access
Well, it ain’t cheap
The Builder’s Edition V-Class K14ce is a bold statement of intent by Taylor, combining V bracing with a notably different, more comfortable, Grand Auditorium style. Of course, its build quality is nothing short of exceptional as we’d expect – not least at this price.
We’re also reminded of the K14ce’s high-end lineage, however, by the paua ‘spring vine’ inlay that lies down the majority of the black/dark brown ebony ’board, while a lighter koa purfling stripe sits just inside the ebony edge-binding and continues around the headstock, which is again ebony-faced with a relatively demure paua inlay.
The aged-gold Gotoh tuners perfectly fit the slightly worn-in vibe – hugely understated class, just like the green abalone dots in the ebony bridge pins. While there’s plenty for those who love details to admire, the modern Taylor guitar is hugely sorted in terms of playing feel. V-Class, Builder’s Edition? Get used to those terms. Taylor has upped the ante. Considerably.